“Winning” is possibly the wrong word. The Gilmore is the award that pianists don’t know they’re in for. It’s the one where you suddenly receive a phone call or someone takes you out to lunch and tells you you’re being given $300,000 and record contracts, top-notch concert dates and the rest of it will all follow. The shock value is astonishing. Previous awards have gone to Leif Ove Andsnes, Piotr Anderszewski and Ingrid Fliter. This time it’s the turn of 30-year-old Kirill Gerstein, and if anyone can withstand such a terrific transformation and live up to it, it’s him.
Born in Russia, Gerstein studied in the US and Budapest and won the Rubinstein Competition in 2001. He is as cool and laid-back a customer as any grand piano could hope to meet on a busy night, an expert jazzer as well as a classy classicist and a pianist with a fine, rich, transparent tone with mind and musicality to match. We send him the very greatest congratulations.
By the way, the Gilmore is based in Kalamazoo. Honest, guv.
Here is Gerstein in the beginning of Rachmaninov’s Third Concerto.